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So You’ve Made A Mess (playing it cool under pressure)
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So You've Made A Mess (playing it cool under pressure)

Drat! You just totally stuck your foot in your mouth at the lunch table. You made a disparaging remark about how awful cats are, only to find out that your cubicle-mate (workspeak for roommate) has 11 cats in her 2-room apartment.

She’s in HR’s office with the door closed and your boss is already glaring at you from his desk as she’s his VIP at the moment. Not to worry. You can actually turn this around so YOU’RE the VIP!

First, don’t get all awkward and defensive. Your best bet is to appear humble, gracious and mature. Don’t cause a scene – that’s the last thing your boss needs right now given the ridiculous charade your co-worker is probably putting on in the HR office. They’re just cats! Right?

Wrong! Let’s swallow our pride a bit and show some class.

When the big boss approaches and asks for a moment in his office, just follow him in and take a gentle seat. A few physical gestures will help here – lean in so he knows you’re listening, make eye contact (but don’t glare), nod in agreement and open your hands with palms open on your lap.

Now, a few things to avoid. Don’t cross your legs or your arms – you’ll look defensive and tight. Don’t look down – it’s a sign of disrespect. Don’t look up – that’s a sign that you’re conjuring up a nice lie. Don’t wring your hands or clasp them together tightly. And whatever you do, don’t sigh and roll your eyes.

Well, we’ve got the non-verbals down. Let’s get the verbals now.
No-no’s:
“I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“She’s crazy.”
“I can’t believe I’m in trouble for this.”
“I’m not going to apologize.”

Yes-yesses:
“You’re right. It was unprofessional and hurtful.”
“I’ll apologize right away.”
“Thank you for bringing this to my attention.”
“What’s your advice? What should I do next?”

Before you know it, you’ll have your boss eating out of your hand!

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